Joran van der Sloot, who is the prime suspect for the disappearance and presumed murder of 18-year-old Natalee Holloway in 2005, could delay his pending extradition to the U.S. to face federal charges for months should he file a habeas corpus petition.

Van der Sloot, who is currently serving a 28-year-long prison sentence for murdering 21-year-old Stephany Flores, could remain in a Peruvian prison for at least another four months should he challenge his detention.

His lawyer, Maximo Altez, told reporters that he has been unable to reach his client for nearly a week after news of his extradition to the U.S. broke. An alleged “prison incident” in the Peruvian mountaintop penitentiary has sparked a full lockdown, with a complete cut off of the inmates’ access to phones and communication devices and in-person meetings. As a result, Altez has not been able to receive official approval from his client to file a habeas corpus petition.



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A habeas corpus petition allows individuals to challenge their detention or imprisonment and typically argues that constitutional rights have been violated, that they were unlawfully detained, or there is a lack of sufficient evidence to justify their imprisonment.  

If van der Sloot files the habeas corpus petition, it would spark an investigation into the legality of his confinement and the court will need to determine if there are grounds for his release, which then in turn could freeze his pending extradition to the U.S.

As well as being the prime suspect for the kidnapping of Holloway in Aruba, van der Sloot also faces federal wire fraud and extortion charges in the Northern District of Alabama. In 2010, he took $25,000 from Holloway’s family in exchange for giving them the location of her remains. He later confessed he had lied.

If the 35-year-old Dutch convict decides not to fight his extradition to the U.S., then the rest of the process is solely administrative, with van der Sloot undergoing a medical examination and, once cleared, being transported by U.S. Marshals to American soil.

U.S. officials have less than 30 days to agree to the terms of the Peruvian government. One condition is that they must agree to return van der Sloot to Peru in order for him to finish serving his murder sentence. Once the terms are agreed to, the extradition could come in days if van der Sloot does not file the habeas corpus petition.

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